Guo Chen

Guo  Chen
  • Associate Professor
  • Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences
  • Global Urban Studies




Guo Chen, Ph.D. (she/her), is Associate Professor of Geography and Global Urban Studies in the College of Social Science, a core faculty member of the Asian Pacific American (APA) Studies Program, and an affiliated faculty member of the Asian Studies Center and ESPP at Michigan State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the Pennsylvania State University. She also has a M.S. degree and a B.S. degree in Geography and Regional Planning from Nanjing University.  Her many awards include an MSU Integrative Studies in Social Science Teaching Excellence Award (2010), a prestigious Woodrow Wilson Center Fellowship, and an American Association of Geographers (AAG) Specialty Group Outstanding Service Award. She is a university Lilly Fellow at MSU and a recipient of the 2023 GenCen Inspiration Award–Professional Achievement Award.

Guo’s scholarship includes over fifty authored and co-authored publications with a research focus on inequality, urban poverty, housing rights, migrants, slums, urbanization and land use, urban governance, and social and environmental justice in China, Asia-Pacific, Global South, and emerging countries. Her articles (including forthcoming ones) appear in PLoS ONEScientific ReportsThe Professional GeographerEnvironment and Planning AUrban GeographyUrban StudiesCitiesAreaHabitat International, Acta Geographica Sinica, and close to fifteen other journals. She co-edited Locating Right to the City in the Global South (Routledge 2013) and “Interrogating unequal rights to the Chinese city” (Environment and Planning A Special Issue based on her initiated panels).  She is the editor of a Focus Section titled “Hidden Geographies: Migration, Intersectionality, and Social Justice in a Global Contemporaneous Space” (2023) for The Professional Geographer comprising six original articles from a highly diverse group of transnational scholars. Her public scholarship includes many op-eds and webinars. Her academic leadership and service include serving on geography/urban studies flagship journals’ editorial boards (The Professional Geographer and Journal of Urban Affairs), serving as the American Association of Geographers–China Geography Specialty Group Secretary, Vice-chair, and Chair 2012-2015, serving as ad hoc reviewer for over 45 journals, many programs and book publishers, and over a hundred organized sessions, invited talks, and conference presentations.

Her research has been funded by the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Mellon Foundation-funded Urban China Research Network, and MSU (IRGP–New Faculty Grant, CASID, HARP, DFI, Honors College, and Asian Studies–Dr. Delia Koo Awards).   Guo authored likely the first geography graduate thesis documenting urban poverty in post-reform China in Chinese language.

Guo is actively involved in leadership roles at MSU. She has served as an elected faculty representative on the Asian Studies Advisory Council, a founding member of the diversity committee and chair of the first standing DEI committee in her department, an elected faculty advisor for Supporting Women in Geography, and an appointed faculty member/elected Chairperson of the President’s Advisory Committee on Disability Issues.

Mentoring and teaching for engaged learning is integral to Guo’s scholarship. As a teacher scholar, she has promoted a creative pedagogy with a critical engagement of visuals, documentaries, and simulations in nearly all of her over ten different undergraduate and graduate courses taught/designed in more than a decade, including an exit/capstone course for MSU Asian Studies Minor students and a recent Honors Research Seminar on global slums ( She has mentored close to forty graduate students and scholars (as mentor, informal mentor, or committee member), in addition to many undergraduate students and interns.


  • Urban and Economic Geography
  • Poverty, Inequality & Social Justice
  • Slums, Housing Rights, and Migrants
  • Waste geographies and Informal recycling
  • Urbanization and inequality
  • City-regions, inequality, and urban and regional policies
  • Neighborhood and urban governance
  • Urbanization and Environment
  • Mixed, Quantitative, Qualitative, & Creative Research Methods
  • China & Globalization
  • Global South, Asia-Pacific, & Emerging Countries